Dr.Saroj Ranjan Mania
Research & Analysis Consultants (RAC)
Dr. Saroj Ranjan Mania, Situation of Sanitation with Reference to Odisha|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tPtHWdvEl4
Social development and sanitation go hand-in-hand since without attending the conditions relating to public health no society can be attributed to be developed or civilized in true sense of the term. It is now considered that the provision of sanitation is a vital development intervention, without it ill health dominates and makes life stressful. Increased access to sanitation and improving hygienic behaviours play a significant role in inhibiting various diseases. In the context of India, despite the inflow of lot of resources over the last quarter century for sanitation, the situation is still challenging. Moreover, providing environmentallysafe sanitation to millions of people having a preponderance of rural mass is an up-heal task in a populous country like India. Though Government is optimistic to achieve MDG target but still it will be significantly challenging due to its realistic gap in rural India. Apart from this, rapid urbanization is also putting stress on urban sanitation system since most slum pockets are not linked with city’s sanitation infrastructure which is shocking but true.
India is second largest populous country in the world having more than 70% rural inhabitants for which it is called “India lives in villages”. Moreover, 25 out of every 100 rural mass are having access to sanitation facilities but there is intense disparity amongst the states with regard to access to sanitation facilities. It is reported that less than 10% rural households in Madhyapradesh use toilet as compared to over 80% in Kerala or 60% in Assam. In caseof Haryana more than 60% rural households possess electrical & electronics gadgets like television & fridge etc. at home where as less than 30% rural households are having toilet facility. Hence, it may be inferred that the habit of using toilet is more of an attitude than affordability.
Percentage of Rural Household with Toilet facility by States, 2001
Situation in Odisha
When one looks at the situation of sanitation in the state of Odisha, it depicts a greater challenge and opportunity. With a total population of 4,19,47358 (2011 Census), the state ranks 11th in size in India and covers a geographical area of approximately 155700 square Kilometers comprising of 30 districts; 314 CD Blocks; 6234 Gram Panchayat and 1,34,850 habitations. The human development indicators of the state are very low as compared to other states. As reported by SRS-2009, the IMR in Odisha stands at 65/1000 live births which is higher than the national average of 54/1000 births. About half of the state’s population is hanging below the poverty line. However, the dismal depiction pertaining to its socioeconomic reflection may be attributed to the composition of its population and habitation in different agro-climatic zones.
Here about one/forth of the total populations belongs to ST category from 62 types of tribal communities including 13 primitive tribal groups. Most of them stay in inaccessible, forest and hilly terrains. Their socio-economic condition is abysmally low. They lack to have proper fooding, shelter and clothing. Due to poverty they are not literate in the true sense and also lack the awareness and drive to send their wards for the formal schooling. As a result the literacy rate is very poor and the same of the tribal women is alarmingly low. They are mostly away from the mainstream. In this backdrop, they do not realise sanitation as a necessity for healthy living. Similarly, about 17 percent of the state’s population belongs to scheduled caste category of which a distinct majority depicts an inclined socio-economic situation in the graph. Hence, when about 40 percent population of the state reflects a deplorable socio-economic situation; its average growth rate depicts an inclined picture despite candid attempts from the remaining relatively fortunate mass.
It is well reported that consumption of safe driving water, proper sanitation and adoption of correct hygiene practices play a significant role in maintaining good health of people. But people those abode at a hilly terrain, with poor infrastructure, low level of literacy and awareness, stressed with poverty make a mechanical living without aspiring for safe drinking water or better sanitation. It is revealed that usually the tribal people fetch drinking water from nearby streams, ponds and chuas which must be contaminated as per the prevailing standard. They do not have any option but follow the age old practice and trend to collect water for consumption.
Apart from the tribals, there is another section of population in this state those who live in coastal zone adjourning to Bay of Bengal. Here majority of rural habitations are relatively developed, the people are educated and have sustained income source from various means. But here due to proximity to different water bodies, people in the costal rural areas prefer open defecation as an attitude rather than the use of toilet. They have understood the utility of toilet but they go the neighbouring fields, riverbeds and defecate behind bushes. Usually, the rural folk go jointly or in small groups during early in the morning and in late-afternoon taking tobacco paste called “Gudakhu” or smoking Bidi. This is a usual habit. Besides, going outside the home for the purpose, provide an opportunity to gossip during the process. So the attraction of going in group, gossiping about household affairs and others is a practice that they can’t do in individual toilets. Even near sub-urban areas during late evening one may come across a stretch of people defecating beside the road keeping a small jug of water with them.
Though these activities hamper human dignity still they move out for the purpose as an attitude despite having capability to setup a toilet or already having at home. There are instances, you may find some villages have been covered under TSC in pen & paper but in case of a physical verification you may not find or you may find short falls in number as compared to the record. Besides, there are many instances where you may notice that the toilets constructed for Sanitation purposes are being used as animal sheds or for the purpose of storing agricultural produce etc.
Apart from the attitudinal issue the other factors responsible for the unutilisation or toilet is lack of water source at the toilet. There are instances people say what is the use of taking a flush out which require additional water from home. Instead, they go to their nearby field without any such hindrance and complete the work without any such problem. This shows that lack of water connection to the toilets is also a pertinent point for the unutilisation of home toilets by the rural people.
Thus, the factors which stand as impediments in achieving the target of sanitation mission and that need special attention for the purpose have been reflected as follows: i) Hilly terrain zones having low water table. ii) Forest areas having lack of water source. iii) Poverty, illiteracy and low level of awareness iv) Meager household land holding to construct toilet v). Lack of proper implementation and sincere verification of the programme. vi) Despite affordability, attitude and habit inhibit its use / construction. vii) Along with the hard ware job (installation of toilet) the software (IEC,BCC or motivational activities should be taken up regularly to change their age old habit. viii) The rural children in the schools may be motivated for discarding open defication on health ground. ix) Construction of toilet along with water-taps may be considered since without water source to the latrine some people do not prefer to use it on various counts. x) Different cross sections of the rural community like children, youth, women and old people etc. should be motivated separately by experienced counsellors to change their habit and to sensitise them about the short comings of open defecation to their life, property and environment.
Finally, it would be fruitful if the Government machineries recognize the reality of the situation and design appropriate measures to address ground reality. For this challenging issue, it has to establish holistic partnership and link up with civil society organizations, CBOs & PRI members etc. to facilitate the process through advocacy programmes, motivational campaigns for achieving the desired result. This should be taken as a mission to achieve since the Supreme Court of India has also ruled that both water & sanitation are part of the constitutional right to life (Article-21). The court has stated that “the right to access to clean drinking water is fundamental to life and there is a duty on the state under the said Article to provide clean drinking water to its citizens; (Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board II V Prof. M.V.Naidu & others (Civil Appeal Nos. 368 – 373 of 1999).
In this light, this forum gives us a moral platform to act hand in hand with the Government machinery and non-governmental organizations, so as to awaken the society, to realise the importance of the use of toilet and to distance from varied health hazards.